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posted by hubie on Saturday November 18 2023, @11:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the fast-good-NOT_cheap dept.

You may think you have fast fingers from typing or texting, but how fast can you assemble a V-8 NASCAR engine? Jayski (NASCAR news site) reports on the annual Hendrick Motorsports engine building contest,

The team of Danny Emerick and Bill Sullivan edged out the team of Scott Vester and Phil Seaton by 0.91 [seconds] to win the 2023 Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown. With the victory, Emerick joins Vester as a six-time winner of the annual competition.
The two teams were neck and neck coming to the finish with the Emerick-led team overcoming an early miscue to take the title. The Emerick-Sullivan team posted a time of 22:56.46, while the Vester-Seaton squad posted a time of 22:57.37.

[...] The Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown sees 12 Hendrick Certified Master Technicians from all across the country at Hendrick Automotive Group, paired with 12 Hendrick Motorsports engine department team members. Each two-person team is matched up against another duo looking to post the fastest qualifying time. The two teams assemble 358-cubic-inch Chevrolet engines with 243 parts[1], similar to the fuel-injected engines that run in the NASCAR Cup Series. The builders assemble their engines on their own stage platform as they race against the clock to post the fastest time. Winners are determined by the quickest time with the fewest number of errors. The top two teams with the fastest times face off in the championship round. To date, the quickest time recorded in this competition was 21 minutes and 40 seconds in 2014.

243 parts in 22 minutes means over 10 parts per minute, or an average of 5 or 6 seconds, per part added to the engine. Each part put in the correct place and in some cases tightened up & torqued (with a power wrench or screwdriver).

[1] your AC contributor believes that some of the "243 parts" may in fact be assemblies that come to the engine builders pre-assembled and tested (thus a _fully_ disassembled engine might have more parts), but that is just a guess.

A quick google suggests that these engines use timing belts instead of chains--in the past the high parts-count of IC engines could be due to counting the individual links and rollers in the timing chain.

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  • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Sunday November 19 2023, @01:42AM (2 children)

    by RS3 (6367) on Sunday November 19 2023, @01:42AM (#1333475)

    I don't work in racing, so I'm not trying to be definitive. A quick web search shows timing chains, belts, and direct gear drives. There are also cam drives that used 4 gears- one on the crankshaft, one on camshaft, and 2 smaller idler intermediate gears. It might be that any of the above are being used currently. My hunch, again, not an ME nor definitive, but my hunch is the rubber belt is a bit more frictional than roller chains are, but the difference might be negligible (even though racing usually cares about every hp (watt) loss).

    The chains are normally fully assembled at full final length. I've never heard of someone building a chain from parts.

    Here's an example of the gear drive with the 2 intermediary gears (I'm not endorsing autozone- it just came up quickly in a search): []

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 19 2023, @06:18AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 19 2023, @06:18AM (#1333484)

    I've never heard of someone building a chain from parts

    As somebody who used to dive under the hood, the idea of a chain being anything other than pre-assembled for your particular engine is absolutely ridiculous. Worst case there's one link you have to connect, but IIRC you put the chain over the gears and then installed them--the trickiest part being to make sure the gears were in the proper position first, otherwise a great way to junk your motor by say, having a valve hit the top of a cylinder. It seems like you'd figure out pretty quickly that you messed up badly. Seems like there were very clear instructions about that, and marks on the gears and chains but there are plenty of idiots out there who manage to get in to things like that.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by UncleBen on Sunday November 19 2023, @11:13PM

    by UncleBen (8563) on Sunday November 19 2023, @11:13PM (#1333555)

    You can see the belt drive’s pulley in one of the videos. Still pushrod and heads are preassembled as is intake with throttle body injection.

    It’s pretty cool to watch the highlights. I’m sure we could field a Soylent team that might do well to the Benny Hill music. What these guys are great at are the skills that have nothing to do with the “engine building” and are all about cooperative and coordinated working together without significant signaling. No one’s ever saying “hand me the doohickey” and everyone’s completing their task in parallel.

    It’s a thing of beauty.